‘It saves lives’ Red Cross in need of blood, 23 appointments from Spring Grove

Jordan Gerard/SGH Larissa Heyer gets Lois Morken set up to donate. Lois Morken is a familiar face at blood drives in Spring Grove, along with a number of other residents who donate blood.
Jordan Gerard

In the middle of a summer season when the Red Cross just announced they are facing a blood emergency, Spring Grove people turned out to donate on Thursday, July 11.

Though the appointments only numbered 23, organizer Carol Rustad said it’s a good sign.

“With the disasters going on in today’s world, the Red Cross is in need of blood,” she said. “One donation can help three people.”

So with those donations and perhaps a few walk-ins, about 69 people will be helped with the donated blood.

About four blood drives are held in Spring Grove every year, usually one per season, however numbers have been decreasing. It especially decreases in the summer because people are on vacation.

Last month the American Red Cross launched the Missing Types campaign to raise awareness for lifesaving blood donations and urge the public to make an appointment to give blood this summer, according to a press release.

During the Missing Types campaign, the letters A, B and O – the letters representing the main blood groups – are disappearing from brands, social media pages, signs and websites to illustrate the critical role blood donors play in helping patients. 

When the letters A, B and O vanish from everyday life, the gaps are striking. 

And when A, B, O and AB blood types go missing from hospital shelves, patient care and medical treatments are affected.

Rustad said donors encouraging others to start donating and getting high school students involved might increase the number of people giving blood.

Most states allow high school students age 17 and over to donate without parents’ consent, but other states do require a form to be filled out by the parent. 

Students age 16 are required to have parental consent before donating. Both ages must meet height and weight requirements.

This is Rustad’s sixth year of organizing the drives in Spring Grove, and that’s when she first started donating blood. 

“I’ve been there. It’s a simple procedure,” she said. “It saves lives. It’s a good thing to do.”

She adds if people are skittish around needles, they just need to think of how many shots and vaccines they’ve received throughout their lifetime, which has involved needles.

Snacks and water are provided after the donation is done in order to make sure people are OK and give them time to recover.

Blood transfusion is the fourth most common inpatient hospital procedure in the U.S, the release said. In addition, blood can only come from volunteer blood donors, but only 3 out of 100 people give blood. 

A 2019 national survey, conducted on behalf of the Red Cross, revealed a troubling disconnect between the public’s perception of blood donations and the realities of patient transfusion needs.

A third (33%) of the public has never considered that blood may not be available when a loved one needs it.

Just last month, the Red Cross had only six units of type O blood available for every 100,000 people, but more than twice that is needed every day.

Clothes (69%), money (63%) and food (53%) are the primary ways that the public has donated to help others in the past year. Only 3% of people in the U.S. give blood.

Blood transfusion is one of the most common hospital procedures in the U.S. Yet, “Never really thought about it” was the primary reason (26%) that people do not give blood among those who haven’t given recently.

More than half (54%) the public believes it is necessary to know their blood type in order to donate blood—this is simply not true. Potential blood donors do not need to know their blood type before giving blood. After individuals give blood, the Red Cross provides each donor their blood type.

How to donate blood

All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. 

A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. 

Individuals who are 17 years of age in most states (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. 

High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.